The Makings of Prove You’re Not a Robot: Experiments in Fear-Art-Love

March 21, 2010 at 2:10pmProve you’re Not a Robot: Experiments in Fear-Art-Love
This is the name of the show.
Sadie Lune and I are engaging in a three week long process of investigating our relationships with fear-art-love. We are using daily experiments and cohabitation to bring ourselves closer to a place of authenticity with fear-art-love. We are expecting these experiences to prepare us for a “show” that asks the “audience” to explore with us these life defining principles: fear-art-love.
Yesterday, Sadie and I were walking through Muir woods. When we decided to turn around and walk back, we discussed the parameters of our next experiment. Sadie grabbed my hand and said, “Silence until we get back to the car.”
“Ok.” I agreed.
“What else? We need something else,” she said urgently.
“Keep our eyes unfocused the entire time. And anytime we focus our eyes, squeeze the other person’s hand.”
“Great. So we hold hands?” We already were. I nodded.
I wanted to experience deliberate unfocusing of the eyes for two reasons. The first is because at a yoga class I recently took, the teacher showed us some eye exercises and explained that animals focus their eyes when they are in fight or flight mode, otherwise their eyes remain unfocused. The second reason was by my new born niece. When she was just born she could barely focus her eyes and could not see anything unless it was right in front of her face. Week by week, she could see a little farther and farther.
We began.
I was so taken with the beauty of the light streaming through the redwood trees and into my unfocused eyes, I almost said something. Sadie squeezed my hand and with that reminded me that the exercise was designed to be silent.
Relaxing the gaze, I found out, takes focused attention. Any time the light shifted or people walked past me, I focused my eyes. With distractions, my eyes focused. And so, in the beginning of the exercise, there was a lot of hand squeezing on my behalf. I realized that if I focused on an imaginary faerie directly in front of my face, I could walk easily through the woods with a relaxed gaze. My mantra became, “Right in front of my face. Right in front of my face.”
At one point, I felt so connected to Sadie and thankful to her presence that I took her hand and held with both of my mine. I appreciated her commitment to the journey. She then took my hand in hers and held it to her cheek.
Back at the car, we bowed slightly to each other and began speaking.
We found that the act of silence was easy, but the unfocused gaze proved challenging. Sadie was surprisingly tired afterwards. She was excited to share with me what she had experienced. She said something to the effect that she was an out of hand egomaniac. In the beginning, when I was squeezing her hand a lot because I focused my eyes, she thought to herself, (and now I am paraphrasing), “God, Lula sucks at this. How come she doesn’t know how to do this? I am so good at this and I am having no problem at all staying unfocused.”
And then, she recounted a story of being a young girl and preparing a meal of canned peaches for her and other even younger girls at the beach. One of the girls thought she would put sand in the peaches that Sadie was cutting up to contribute. Sadie said she was outraged by this 4-year-old’s actions and demanded that she then eat the sandy peaches. Luckily for the 4-year-old, there was an adult present who intervened by saying, “Sadie, she is only 4!” And that is the story that flashed into Sadie’s head while holding my hand.
This exercise brought me closer to
Fear~ people walking by and I was afraid of being judged
Art~ moments of timelessness, beauty and determination
Love~ connection to Sadie through the commitment to the process.
And so, it was a success.

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